After less than two years on the air, ABC affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco has decided to cancel its hour-long interactive news and pop culture program “7 Live.”
Hosted by Lizzie Bermudez and local comedian Brian Copeland, the show sought to provide a fresh perspective on the day’s local headlines and pop culture news while engaging a television audience through blogs and social platforms including Twitter and Facebook.
The show debuted in September 2010 and won its first local Emmy Award the following year for interactivity.
Station management informed hosts Bermudez and Copeland of the show’s cancellation on Wednesday, according to one source familiar with the situation. The meeting with station management was followed by an announcement with the rest of the program’s staff, the source said. It wasn’t clear if the show’s staff would be reassigned to work on the station’s other news products.
Attempts to reach station management for a comment on the show’s upcoming cancellation were not successful.
Despite some success on social platforms, the show struggled to find a stable television audience. “7 Live” was the San Francisco market’s only live news program during the 3 p.m. hour, competing against syndicated talk show and courtroom programs on other stations.
Several television stations across the country have experimented with television-internet hybrid news programs. Those shows have delivered mixed results. “7 Live’s” demise is the second such experimental social news program to go under in the past month.
KOMU-TV, the NBC affiliate serving Columbia, Missouri, relaunched its half-hour 11 a.m. social news program into a more traditional noon newscast that “will sprinkle a lighter dose of social media feedback” according to Poynter. The station’s interactive director Jen Lee Reeves told Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman last week the show was too ahead of its time for its audience,
“Our older, traditional viewer is not quite ready for what we brought to the table,” Reeves told Sonderman, “so we’re going to take it down a notch.
Last year, WSLS-TV in Roanoke, Virginia also replaced its social newscast with a traditional one, Sonderman wrote.
KGO, who services the San Francisco Bay Area including Silicon Valley with its signal, hoped to capitalize on its location and tech-savvy viewers for an interactive newscast. Blogger-turned-entrepreneur Ben Parr was an occasional guest during his days as a Mashable editor, and “7 Live” featured somewhat regular appearances by journalists from the technology website CNET, which is also based in San Francisco.
Though KGO’s signal beams into the heart of Twitter’s San Francisco offices, Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters and Google’s mammoth Mountain View campus, the gamble of a half-hour news program with a social-driven ethos didn’t pay off. It was money, not ratings, that led station management to can the show according to one source at the station.
“7 Live” is scheduled to end April 27, the source said.
KGO already airs 90 consecutive minutes of local news following “7 Live,” and it’s unlikely the station will relaunch the program into a newscast. My source suggests the station will instead replace the show with syndicated programming until 2013 when ABC launches a new talk show hosted by journalist Katie Couric.
Until Wednesday, the station had tentative plans to move “7 Live” to the 2 p.m. time slot next year, freeing up the 3 p.m. slot for Couric’s show.
UPDATE 4/21/2012: In a statement published by MediaBistro’s TV Spy, KGO Vice President and ABC7 News General Manager William Burton confirmed that the cancellation of “7 Live” was over financial issues. “We’re tremendously proud of everyone involved with ’7 Live’ and their terrific work that earned an Emmy Award and other recognition,” Burton wrote. ”Unfortunately, ’7 Live’ was unable to build enough of an audience to justify the major financial commitment necessary to continue the show.” Station management still has not responded to this blog for a comment.
Full disclosure: The author is a former employee of KGO-TV and produced content for 7LiveOnline.com during employment.